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Letter to The Honorable Barack Obama, President of the United States

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

COLORADO, UTAH AND WYOMING GOVERNORS DELIVER CLEAN-COAL LETTER TO WHITE HOUSE, DELEGATIONS

Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter and the governors of Utah and Wyoming today submitted a letter to the White House calling for the rapid development of clean coal technologies that can be utilized domestically and adopted by industrializing nations such as China and India.

The letter to President Obama was delivered during the National Governors' Association annual winter meeting in Washington, D.C., to Carol Browner, assistant to the president on energy and climate change, and to Energy Secretary Steven Chu. The letter also will be sent to the congressional delegations of the three Rocky Mountain states.

"Our three states and an informal consortium of other stakeholders are prepared to move rapidly," Governors Ritter, Jon Huntsman of Utah and Dave Freudenthal of Wyoming wrote. "However, it is clear to us that taking technology from the laboratory bench to commercial-scale demonstration plants simply will not occur without a significant federal commitment of resources. Therefore, we are writing to urge you to thoroughly consider significant funding for federal-state-private efforts to construct (clean-coal projects) that use western coals and are capable of operating at altitude."

On another issue, Gov. Ritter on Thursday urged the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to expedite approval of the Ruby natural gas pipeline. The pipeline will carry abundant Colorado natural gas to lucrative markets in California and the West Coast.

Here is the complete text of today's clean-coal letter:

The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C.

Dear Mr. President:

Finding a way to use our Nation's rich supplies of coal in a manner that avoids emissions of carbon dioxide and other pollutants is absolutely vital to the success of any national effort to reduce emissions, promote national security and create jobs. Our Nation must also take the lead in developing truly clean-coal technologies that can be adopted by rapidly industrializing nations such as China and India.

It is with these goals firmly in mind that we report that our three states and an informal consortium of other stakeholders are prepared to move rapidly to develop new and retrofit clean coal demonstration projects that incorporate carbon capture and sequestration. However, it is clear to us that taking technology from the laboratory bench to commercial-scale demonstration plants simply will not occur without a significant federal commitment of resources. Therefore, we are writing to urge you to thoroughly consider significant funding for federal-state-private efforts to construct new and retrofit demonstration clean coal facilities that use western coals and are capable of operating at altitude.

We envision these will be new and retrofit utility-scale clean coal projects that are: (1) sited in existing infrastructure; (2) utilize CO2 for enhanced oil/gas recovery and/or use a deep saline aquifer or other geologic storage; (3) provide for federal statutory streamlining of DOE funding and required state rate recovery to incentivize workable, long-term project economics; (4) provide for proper management of short-and long-term liability; and (5) facilitate proper environmental permitting to protect public health and the environment. These projects will prove out utility scale application of carbon capture and sequestration strategies that will not only ensure that the country can meet its objectives of maintaining a strong electricity-based economy, but will also allow existing or new coal generation facilities to provide low cost, clean energy.

This will be a critical step toward enabling the country to meet its energy demand with an energy portfolio that includes clean fossil fuel resources, while also ensuring that energy costs are contained and the local communities dependent on the extraction of these resources remain economically viable.

These projects are ideal because they are located in regions where there are easily accessible CO2 storage sites, they have access to infrastructure, and the necessary human capital and supporting technologies are already in place.

This is in the spirit of section 413 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which provided for federal cost sharing for a clean coal demonstration project from coal mined in the western United States. Section 413, however, was never funded. Our project will satisfy the policy objectives of section 413 by providing new and retrofit technologies that advance utility-scale, clean coal demonstration projects in the western states. Consistent with section 413, our projects will be at altitude of greater than 4,000 feet above sea level, use sub-bituminous or bituminous coal with an energy content of up to 13,000 btu/lb, and sequester carbon through deep saline aquifer storage or enhanced oil/gas recovery.

These projects are consistent with findings from scientists who have concluded that: (i) carbon capture and sequestration is likely to be competitive with other major carbon mitigation technologies; (ii) the geological carbon dioxide storage capacity in the Great Plains and Intermountain West coincides with large coal reserves; and, (iii) there is good cause to be optimistic about the safety and security of geological carbon dioxide storage with careful planning and management.

Funding clean coal technologies is also in concert with the G8 Summit in Japan last July, where the eight countries committed to sponsor twenty large-scale, fully-integrated, carbon capture and sequestration demonstration projects by 2010. The United States agreed to sponsor at least ten of these projects. The unfolding global financial crisis, however, has cast a shadow on the prospects for ten U.S. utility-scale carbon capture and sequestration projects, such that we believe no projects will happen without federal assistance. We further believe that projects that have broad participation from states, utilities, and other stakeholders provide the best opportunity for early success in proving up and advancing the critical technologies needed to move us closer to solutions.

Finally, our intent is to assure that the projects funded under this effort are capable of meeting the emissions and sequestration performance standards adopted for electric generating units by the state of California. In order to compete, any clean coal technology must be capable of meeting those standards. And of course, any such project will require broad stakeholder support as well as a commitment from our states to expedite regulatory and permitting processes for advanced coal projects that include a significant component of carbon capture and sequestration. This letter is evidence of our commitment to such an endeavor.

Thank you for your attention to this important energy initiative. We look forward to working with you to accomplish these goals.

Sincerely,

Bill Ritter Jr.
Governor of Colorado

Jon M. Huntsman, Jr.
Governor of Utah

Dave Freudenthal
Governor of Wyoming

cc:
Secretary of Energy Steven Chu
Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change, Carol Browner
Colorado, Utah and Wyoming Congressional Delegations


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